In But Not Of


June 04, 2018

By Lee Ireland.

Rev. Lee Ireland is the Interim Pastor at the First Congregational Church of Rowley, MA.


 

Scripture: 1 Samuel 8:4-11

 
So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead[a] us, such as all the other nations have.”
 
But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.”
 
Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots.

 

2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1  (NIV)

 
It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.”[a] Since we have that same spirit of[b] faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
 
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
 
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.

 

Reflection:

 
I imagine that you are like me, in that you read scripture passages several times and then suddenly, a new insight comes as you read one passage again as happened to me with 1 Sam 8 and 2 Cor 4. They speak to the historical implications of our reality as human beings, being caught up in the ways of this world, the needs of our bodies and the demands of our egos. Seems history hasn’t changed human hearts much because today we’re seeing the implications of those who are serving in high positions now are caught up in their personal needs with no interest in listening to what God might be saying to them in their souls. As students of Jesus’ teachings, who came specifically to offer the alternative vision and to teach those who would listen, what might we hear today? Paul, who is mindful of his temporal body, was referencing words that Jesus offered as found in John17:16: We are “In this world but not of it.”
 
For us and our churches today, how do we live this alternative style and truth? If we study further what Jesus teaches, we become familiar with one of his key statements, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” He is trying to teach folks how to free themselves from the ways of the world, so that they/we will hear the ways of the “Father” and be opened to hear the wisdom of the Kingdom of God, not just for the afterlife but for the here and now. To bring life, light and hope and grace into our lives. This challenges us to answer: What do we do when we are in situations that are not to our liking because of the choices others have made? Do we just try to escape from the world and ignore the details? That’s pretty easy to do these days. Or do we hear the call to help bring God’s light and wisdom into the situation? That requires more of us in time and talents and spirit. If we’re “in this world, but not of this world,” we see with different eyes and lead from a different spirit and offer steps to take that will surprise many but others will say, “don’t bother me with that.”
 
In this devotional today that’s different than a sermon, I invite you to consider what is here for you in your own life asking for your love, your gift of forgiveness and mercy so that God’s love can be experienced and not more chaos or fear. Allow the waters of God’s love to pour upon you and listen... listen within. Offer the wisdom you hear that comes forth from the well of unconditional love…the love as revealed through the man named Jesus when he walked on this earth. Be the one who can be the change we long to see…because of the “agape” love that we can offer as we practice the ways of peace and grace.
 

PRAYER

Mysterious and loving God, how we long to see your ways of love, peace and harmony prevail in this world. Guide us to those moments when we remember it is through our actions of love and forgiveness when miracles can happen and you are revealed even more fully. Open our eyes, hearts and minds through your grace. Amen.
 
 

New Prayer Requests:

We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at drewp@ctucc.org.

Prayers of Intercession:

  • for those grieving or suffering after a volcano eruption in Guatemala on Sunday.
  • for those grieving in Arizona after a series of shootings last week left 4 dead.
  • for those in Hawaii where lava flows continue to effect residents, leaving some stranded without power.
 

Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:

  • for the arrival of June - month of Weddings, Graduations, and the start of Summer Camp.

Please Remember These Connecticut Conference Churches
In Your Prayers:

Newington
Church of Christ Congregational UCC
 
Newtown
Newtown Congregational UCC
 
Niantic
Niantic Community Church
 
Norfolk
Church of Christ Congregational UCC
 
North Branford
North Branford Congregational UCC

 
             
This Week in History:
June 4, 1919 (99 years ago): Congress passed the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing women the right to vote.
 

Starting With Scripture: June 04, 2018 , by Lee Ireland.